In recent years there has been a growing awareness of the epochal crisis we are experiencing, characterised by
- devastating effects produced on the natural environment by climate change, resource exploitation and pollution, with the consequent loss of biodiversity;
- growing inequalities worldwide, social exclusion, impoverishment of millions of people;
- violence and conflicts around the world, resulting in a de facto ‘third world war in pieces’, with the nuclear risk increasingly looming with the war in Ukraine.
A sign of the times, linked to all these dynamics, is the dramatic – unprecedented – increase in the number of forced migrants, refugees and displaced persons in the world (281 million in 2020, of which 82.4 million refugees).
Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’ helps us understand that.
We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature. (LS 139). Therefore today (…) we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. (LS 49).
The global system, as it stands today, is unsustainable and is endangering life on the planet on an unprecedented scale. Science has shown that this crisis is due to human actions and that we have a very small window of opportunity left to prevent the worst. If we reach tipping points, climate change will intensify and be irreversible. We must act now to reverse trends, as we respond to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.